You’re ready to sell your house.
But before you start looking for a realtor, here’s everything I wish I knew before I started looking for the right real estate agent.
Find A Realtor Specific To Your Needs
Not all realtors are created equal.
Like everything else, realtors have specialties. A realtor may focus on:
Helping track down investment properties.
Just in case you’re not too keen on the differences, let’s review them below.
Buyer’s agents typically work with people looking to purchase a home.
A good buyer’s agent will:
Have to take their clients on home buying tours.
Write up and submit offers.
And guide their clients through the home buying process from start to finish.
In my experience, buyer’s agents have a lot more on their plate than seller’s agents.
Seller’s agents typically focus on helping people sell their homes.
A good seller’s agent should:
Advise their client on a fair starting price for their home.
Recommend what needs to be done to the house before listing it.
Help sellers review and negotiate offers.
Hold open houses, if they want to, and if you want them to.
Seller’s agents generally have the easier job of the two for one reason.
Buyers require a lot more work than sellers.
Consider this: A buyer may want their agent to take them to view 20 homes before they eventually get an offer accepted.
A seller more than likely only has one home to sell, and the seller’s agent doesn’t have to be present for every individual during a tour.
The last specialty we’ll focus on is an agent who can help with investing.
The agent may help with:
Locating and analyzing properties that would make a great rental.
Or helping to find a property that can be flipped for a fair profit.
These agents are hard to come by in my experience, but when you find a good one, treat them like gold!
They can and will become an invaluable part of your investing journey.
Hold Interviews, And Pick The Best Candidate
Now that we’ve reviewed the different types of realtor specialties, you should know which type you need to find.
Trust me, every realtor will tell you they can do everything, and to be fair, yes, any realtor is technically capable of buying, selling, or helping with investing.
However, it’s best practice to find an agent who specializes in what you need.
Ask some basic questions to get an idea of where their strengths lie. For example:
How many homes have you bought in the past year?
How many homes have you sold in the past year?
How many investors have you worked with in the past year?
A realtor who has sold 20 homes, but only bought 2, is the right choice as a seller's agent.
Realtors (If They’re Good) Will do a lot For You
Your realtor will do a heck of a lot for you. That is if they’re good.
I’ve worked with several realtors over the past few years, and here’s what they typically do for me:
Keep an eye out for buying opportunities.
Analyze properties for their investment potential.
Run CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) on properties I send them.
Take me to view houses.
Write up multiple contracts.
Help coordinate inspections and appraisals.
Negotiate with buyers.
Negotiate with sellers.
Help me find reputable contractors.
Coordinate closings with the title company.
Explain the pros and cons of each offer we receive.
Handle all the inbound calls for any of our listings.
Marketing my listings online and offline.
There are probably a lot more things, too!
I’ve heard stories of realtors who just put a sign in the yard and hope a property sells itself. That, of course, is not the type of realtor you want.
You need a realtor who is as dedicated to your goals and helping you reach them as you are.
You Can Negotiate The Commission
I was unaware of this at first, but you can negotiate the commission with your realtor.
A typical realtor commission that comes to mind is 6%, but I commonly pay my realtors 5% - 5.5%.
You should feel confident and comfortable negotiating your commission with your realtor.
I’d make sure to ask if they’ll cut you a deal on the commission if they’re representing your sale, but there’s no buyer's agent.
Realtors split the total commission with the other agent involved. It’s up to the listing agent to decide how much the split will be.
In my experience, the listing agent typically gives themselves a tiny bit more of a cut.
For example, the listing agent will specify they get 3.2% of the commission, and the buyer’s agent will get 2.8%, for a total of 6%.
If there’s no other agent involved, they are entitled to keep the entire commission, and this situation is where you should ask if they’ll cut you a percent or two off.
You can also negotiate a better rate with your agent if you use them for any kind of volume buying or selling.
If you can provide them with multiple sales, they’ll likely agree!
How To Find A Great Realtor
Google is likely to be your first stop when looking online for a realtor. Search realtors near me, and you’ll get plenty of results.
You’ll want to see how many reviews they have and their overall rating. Of course, the higher the rating, and the more ratings there are, the better.
Google maps will quickly show you where they are located. A realtor located in the area you’re looking to buy or sell is better than one based 30 miles away.
Your realtor must have an in-depth knowledge of the area where they’ll be helping you buy or sell.
Realtor.com offers a considerable directory of realtors in your area.
However, it doesn’t offer the same amount of social proof.
By social proof, I’m referring to reviews.
Zillow.com is another excellent online resource that can help you find a great realtor.
If you’re looking at a Zillow listing to buy a house, you’ll see what Zillow calls “Premier Agents” listed as a contact option.
Realtors who show up as premier agents are paying a pretty penny to be listed there, so you can feel confident they take their job seriously.
Yelp is a typical online destination when looking for food options, but you can also find real estate agents there!
Unlike Realtor.com, Yelp should offer up plenty of reviews for you to check out from past clients.
Last but not least is Facebook. Although I recommend the other websites over Facebook, it still might be worth taking a quick peek.
One of the best things you can do is get a referral. If you’re looking to online resources for reviews/recommendations, why not look to someone you know?
If a friend or family member has recently bought or sold their property, ask if they’d recommend their realtor.
If they would, you should find out if they’d be a good fit for you.
Stop By Open Houses on the Weekend
Here’s a method I don’t see spoken about a lot.
Drive around on weekends and stop by all the open houses you can find.
Open houses are not mandatory, and any agent who takes time out of their weekend to hold one may likely be a hustler.
Feel free to pop in, explain to them your goals, and see if you stumble upon one you like!
Realtors Lock You into a Contract
Both buyer’s and seller’s agents can and will lock you into contracts.
To protect themselves.
Imagine you’re an agent, and you just finished showing a buyer 20 houses.
Hours of driving them around
Hours of paperwork submitting offers
Days worth of negotiating
Then, out of nowhere, your client tells you they have decided to start working with another agent.
How disheartening would that be? All your hard work would have been for nothing.
Or, imagine you listed someone’s house, and then they find a buyer on their own and want to cut you out of the deal after all the hard work you did for them.
The above scenarios are generalizations, but this is why realtors will have you sign exclusivity agreements.
The agreements are negotiable and can last for any amount of time both parties are comfortable with.
Take Your Realtor’s Advice, But Question it First
It’s important to remember your realtor is a professional.
So long as you did your homework and vetted them to a degree, you should feel confident they know the market well.
And by knowing the market, they’ll be able to offer you reliable and reasonable advice.
If you want to list your house at $200,000, but your realtor says you should list at $185,000, you should list your home at $185,000.
However, you don’t have to take the advice blindly.
Ask them to support their advice with facts and statistics. Don’t be a jerk and challenge them just to be a jerk, but do so to gain insight and understanding genuinely.
Some other things you should take your realtors advice include, but are not limited to:
When to do a price drop, and by how much.
Any advice regarding cleaning, staging, or repairs to the property before listing.
When to list your property.
How to handle a counter offer.
How much to offer on a property.
What concessions or repairs to request on a property if you’re placing a bid.
What contingencies you should include in your offer.
Realtors are a wealth of information. Make sure you use it.
If Your Realtor Lists Your House to High, It Could Hurt Your Chances of Selling
If you’re looking for a realtor because you want to sell your house, this is one of the most significant pieces of advice I can give you.
Your agent must list your house at the right price straight out of the gate.
You only get one first impression, and your house has to nail it.
When houses are overpriced:
They’ll get less foot traffic.
Less foot traffic means less or no offers.
No offers mean your house will languish on the market.
The longer your house sits on the market, the worse it starts to look in the eyes of potential buyers.
Additionally, the longer your house sits on the market, you slowly start to lose negotiating power.
What would you think if you found a seemingly perfect house but has been listed for over four months with no offers?
You might think somethings wrong with it.
And you’d more than likely feel like you could get away with offering less than full price.
To further demonstrate why pricing right from day one is so important, I’ll share a super short story with you.
I saw a house come on the market in early 2019, but I knew the seller was asking way more than it was worth.
Weeks went by, and the house continued sitting on the market.
Months went by. Nothing.
It’s been over a year, and the house still hasn’t sold!
To be fair to the agent, the seller was being stubborn and refused to drop the price.
Overpricing and refusing to drop the price to meet the market is a sure-fire way never to sell it.
Some Realtors Will See You As a Check
This point is sad but true.
Some realtors will only see you as their next commission check.
They will not have your best interest at heart.
They will not care about the type of house you want.
They won’t care about helping little Suzie get into the best school.
When they see you, they see dollar signs.
I don’t have an exact number, but I’m confident this is only a handful of realtors, so you’ll more than likely find someone who’s high caliber.
However, you do have to be wary.
Some signs an agent may only see you as a check are:
They only take you to see the most expensive listings.
They pressure you to make offers.
They don't seem to listen to your needs.
If you sense an agent doesn’t care about you and just wants their money, dump them right away.
Give your time and business to someone who cares about you and cares about others in general.
While searching for the right agent, I came across someone who only viewed me as a paycheck.
They tried to pressure me into signing an exclusivity agreement. Even though I told the agent I could not (as an investor, you have to leave yourself open to working with many realtors).
Instead of understanding, they exploded, accusing me of wasting their time and insulting their business.
Walk away from these kinds of people, and don’t feel bad about it.
If You Feel Your Realtor Isn’t Performing, Don’t Be Afraid to Get a New One
The last bit of advice I’ll give you about financing a realtor is this.
Pay close attention to if they’re living up to their word.
If they tell you they’ll start sending you properties within your criteria within 24 hours. Do they?
If they tell you they’ll have your offer in by this evening, did they?
If they tell you they’ll take you on a buyer’s tour next weekend, do they?
As professionals, they need to live up to their word.
And as their client, you need to make sure they live up to it.
Should you find they’re not performing up to snuff, you should drop them.
Buying or selling a house is challenging work, and you deserve excellent service.
Sell to a Direct Homebuyer Instead
Would you prefer not to work with a realtor?
At Contenza, we work with great realtors who align with our goals.
However, we understand working with a realtor isn’t always what you want to do.
We buy houses as-is, so you never have to:
Pay us any fees or commissions.
Stage or clean the house.
Perform and repairs before closing.
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About The Author
Jordan Reid founded Contenza Properties in April of 2018 to help homeowners solve their real estate problems quickly.
Since then, Jordan has helped multiple homeowners facing difficult situations such as divorce, property liens, and unwanted property inheritance.
Jordan believes in putting people first, and numbers second, which helps him reach the best possible solutions for the homeowners he works with.